Quality tools and training
Because laboratory services play a major role in all the key processes of detection, assessment, response, notification and monitoring of public health events, well-managed, high-functioning laboratory services are crucial for public health. Improving the quality of laboratory services in health-care systems is therefore an essential step towards protecting the health of a country’s population and strengthening its health-care system as a whole.
Consequently, the laboratory sector is one of the core capacities that countries must develop to implement the International Health Regulations (2005). WHO/Europe actively supports Member States of the WHO European Region in their efforts to improve laboratory services.
This support includes nurturing laboratory networks in Member States; assisting Member States’ work with WHO collaborating centres (for example, for genetic characterization); and providing training for laboratory personnel at all levels and – in order to maintain momentum – for local trainers.
These activities have, in turn, required WHO to develop a range of laboratory quality materials, including the following.
- The Laboratory Quality Management System (LQMS) Training Toolkit is used to train laboratory managers, senior biologists and technologists in quality management systems as a step towards obtaining international recognition, such as ISO 15189 for laboratories handling clinical specimens. It provides comprehensive materials for the design and organization of training workshops for all stakeholders in health laboratory processes, from management to administration to bench-work laboratorians. The materials can be selected and customized to fit local needs. The Toolkit is available in English, French and Russian.
- The LQMS Basics online course describes the building blocks of an LQMS. The course is currently available in English and Russian, and will soon be available in French and Spanish.
- The Laboratory Quality Stepwise Implementation (LQSI) tool supports laboratories in implementing or improving their quality management. Built as a stepwise plan, it provides roadmaps for progressing from day to day. It is available in Arabic, English, French, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
- The LQSI toolkit contains customizable trainers’ and learners’ materials to support the design of workshops that fit local training needs. The toolkit includes an LQMS handbook available in English, French, Russian and Spanish. The toolkit itself is available in English, French and Russian.
- The laboratory quality manual template contains illustrative examples of the content of a quality manual and of standard operating procedures, and supports the LQMS Training Toolkit and the LQSI tool. It is available in English, French, Russian and Spanish.
- Videos on the WHO YouTube channel promote laboratory quality. Users can hear laboratory professionals share their experiences of why quality management matters in health laboratories, and watch an animated video on why quality in health laboratories is so important.
- The Laboratory Assessment Tool can be used to assess the overall national laboratory system, as well as individual laboratories.
The development of these materials has been made possible through the support of a number of technical and financial partners, all listed in the relevant publications. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in particular has supported the development and dissemination of these materials through WHO–CDC cooperative agreements.